Simon Barnard recalls a day out in Darlington for the latest instalment of My Match…
Although not a classic game, major upset or even a win – my most memorable match is the FA Cup Third Round game against Darlington on 7th January 1984.
At the time l didn’t even live in the town having moved away soon after my first game at London Road in 1975 (v Canterbury City in the Kent Messenger Trophy Final).
Stones had finished second to Enfield the season before and were going well in the league again and this tie was an opportunity to prove we could mix it with the Division 4 boys.
Staying with friends we had to be at Maidstone West station at a ridiculously early time for the ‘special’ train to Darlington.
The journey seemed to take forever and included a very lengthy stop in a siding somewhere near Wembley (Willesden!).
Arriving at Darlington just after 2pm the first thought was a pint and some food. However the local Constabulary had other ideas. They made sure that we were escorted to ground without any detours.
Darlington had two big names in the team, Roger Davies who had been part of Brian Clough’s Derby through the 70’s and the Quakers manager ex spurs legend Cyril Knowles.
The first half was even and Stones went in level at 1-1 with a goal from Paul Lazarus!
However, in the second half, the league team stepped up their game and ended up 4-1 winners and that man Davies scored. The attendance was 3,509 compared to a normal Darlington home gate of around 2,000.
My recollection of the return journey has faded but I do remember the very thoughtful Constabulary making sure we were safely returned to the station again. The trip back was marginally shorter and we arrived back at West station around midnight.
Stones went on to win the league but missed out on election to the league as the league chairmen closed ranks and saved/re-elected Hartlepool, yet again.
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